Justine Dorsey has come a long way since we first chatted with her while she was in the recording studio knocking out a few new demos in hopes to launch her music career. Her debut album Colorwheel was released on iTunes in February prompting a lot of attention around tinseltown. Justine became the youngest person ever to be nominated for the Singer/Singerwriter of the Year award at the annual LA Music Awards. Ending the year on a high note, Justine has released her first ever music video for Breakup Song, which has already received almost half a million views since its released 10 days ago. Keep reading to find out all about Justine's journey into as a recording artist and find out exactly what the Breakup Song is all about.
Q&A WITH JUSTINE DORSEY
Interview By: Lauren Pinney
As a recording artist there are so many avenues to go down before you release your music, what is your favorite part of the process? My favorite part is when we have a new song and I get to hear it for the first time. And I am just imagining all of the different things that could go, thinking of lyrics, thinking of the feel of the song and thinking, "oh my gosh this is gunna be great!" beause my music really is something special. I think when people hear it they are gunna hear something very different than what they are hearing from people my age. Its going to be very different from what they are hearing and it's going to be something new. I think it's going to open up a whole other demographic really! People that are really interested in looking for different types of music other than what’s being thrown at them.
What would be your least favorite part of the process? I hate when I am recording and there is this one little note in the song that I just can’t hit, because I am just so used to hearing it one way. So, I do it over and over and over again and I still can’t get it. And then finally, after I concentrate so hard on the one little note. I think that’s my least favorite part.
You have written some of your songs, correct? Can you tell us a little bit about the songwriting process and where you came up with your ideas? My first couple of songs I did not write, but I did come up with melodies. I’d go into the studios and come up with ideas for the songs, so in that way I sorta wrote them. There is one song on the album that is called English Rose that is totally written by me, all the lyrics and the melodies, and the cords. It’s hard at times to write because you think all of these things sound lame to you, and you think "oh my gosh I am just stuck in a rut, I cant do anything, I don’t know what to do about lyrics, I don’t know what to do." So, its hard. But when I started to write English Rose...I play guitar and I had this cord sequence stuck in my head that I played over and over and over again, and I was like, "You know, I think its time to write a song." I pulled out this whole packet that my mom had printed out a long time ago and I never even used it, it was about how to write lyrics and how to write a song. I looked at it and it said the best thing is to start with a title. And I thought well where am I going to get my title I have no idea what the songs about. It just said think about a newspaper article, headlines or anything that you’ve seen that’s caught your eye. I remember a long time I had read a issue of Teen Vogue and English Rose was one of the headlines and that stuck with me in a sense because I love roses and I love anything British, so that was the title. I had to stem from that saying things that reminded me of that, what are things that are the total opposites of that, and it helped me shape my lyrics. And I think it helps when you can relate to your songs, it helps you write a lot easier it helps it flow a little more. I was at school, it was sorta a very negative experience for me in junior high, other than my friends and everything, and it was not working out for me. I wanted to prove to my teachers that I could shine, and that I was a great student, and that I was an English Rose, and I was something different something special. I think every girl is special and every girl wants to prove that to the world how special and individual they are.
Who are some of your musical influences, where you got your songs and your passion for music? My music is definitely a retro-pop and really different type of genre of music. Lilly Allen has been a really big inspiration for me and contributor to the music aspect of it, definitely not lyric wise. I love Lilly Allen. I love Ingrid Michelson. I like Sarah Bareilles. I really like people who do different things with their voices so if you are listening on the radio and you hear a song on and you’re like, "Oh I totally know who that is, that’s Lilly Allen," or something like that. I think it’s something really special that people can pick you out right away when they hear you sing.
What is one person you would like to do a duet with? I’d like to do one with Ingrid Michelson because I absolutely love her voice, and I’d like to do one with Jason Mraz. His voice blends really well. He does a lot of duets. But I just love his voice, its gorgeous. That would be a fun to do a duet with him.
What is the story behind your first single the Breakup Song? One of the lines says “you’re so conceited you won’t even believe it that I wasn’t into you.” Girls are looking for something fun, just sort of something to do. She never really was into this guy and now that they are all broken up he is like, "Oh my gosh she is crying over me and sad." And she is like, "Dude you have it all wrong" and that’s sorta the thing. You don’t have to be all weepy and sad. I just think it is funny how arrogant he is that he won’t listen to her.
Can you tell us a little bit about the new music that you are working on? I am actually in the studio right now; I was doing the scratch vocals for some of my songs. I realized how different my album was going to sound, all of my songs are like butterflies, no two are alike. You can listen to some people and hear two songs that sound quite similar and none of my songs are similar that’s for sure, they are all over the place. They are all different songs, different tempos, different melodies, totally different feels to them. I have a dance song. I have more of like a singing, musical theater splashy song, and then I have a rock ballad. You know, it is such a big mash up of different genres as well as different feels of songs. My new songs are very different from what we’ve been doing. I think that all of my songs really compliment each other really nicely its totally going to work together!
Can you tell us a little bit about your experience playing in the sound of music at the historic Hollywood Bowl? I was at a Fillmont scene on the Warner Brothers lot. It was for a period piece, so I had my hair in braids and a little vintage dress on, and my tap shoes cause it was a dance movie. I was just walking and this guy comes up to me in this really raspy voice. He didn’t know that I acted, he doesn’t know that I sang, he didn’t know anything about me, but he said "You have to audition for the musical that I am casting." He gave us the address and I went and auditioned. I originally went in for one of the younger sisters and then they decided that I should be auditioning for Bergita. I went to the audition and I had a lot of fun singing and dancing. Then I got a call back and I did the same thing where they put us together, they saw who worked well with one another, and how we sang and how we danced. When I walked out the same guy was standing outside and he motioned for my mom and I to come over. He said, "Just so you know, you booked the part." I was so happy. All in one month we did rehearsals for the whole show. The day that we got to perform there I was just so excited, but I wasn’t nervous. I did not think the way that most people do. I felt totally confident because I was super excited. One of the clear things that I remember was looking thru the two giant curtains, looking through and looking at all the people sitting there, and thinking "oh my gosh." I finally got like a feeling of how big it really was.
I understand that you were Sandy in Grease, what was it like playing that character? It was really fun. It wasn’t a professional thing, it was sorta a fun thing and it was definitely a watered down thing. I was really little, and I just remember having a lot of fun with the music and the dancing and everything. I think my favorite thing has been, I don’t know if it says that I was in the American Girl show at the Grove, but that has been my favorite job because it was a great thing. It was a fun little thing that I did. American girl has been my absolute favorite because I made friendships to last a lifetime and that’s when I truly learned what theater was like and performing for an audience almost every weekend, because I was in school, but then during the summer every night. It was just so much fun and so special, and I gained a lot of knowledge doing American Girl.
Who is your favorite actress? Meryl Streep
Who is your favorite actor? I don’t even know!
Who is your favorite singer/band? Lilly Allen. And my favorite band is Carebears on Fire, they are a cross between the Ramones and the Go Go’s, and they are super cute and edgy. I like them.
What is your favorite song? "You’re The Top" by Cole Porter. It’s really old. It’s from the 30’s, but he was an old jazz writer. The lyrics are so witty and the music is so creative. I love that song.
What is your favorite album? Ingrid Michelson’s "Be Okay"
Your favorite T.V show? American Idol, I love reality TV.
What is your favorite movie? Momma Mia! because I love theater.
What is your favorite book? Harry Potter is my all time favorite series; my mom knows how much I love it. I think I am a little too obsessed with it.
How many times have you read the books? I have read each of them about five to seven times, and counting!
What is your favorite past time? Reading and dancing with my sister. We like making up dances, it’s really fun!
What’s your favorite hobby? Probably dancing, because it goes along with my music and I take a lot of dance classes.
What kind of dancing? I do contemporary, tap and ballet. I really like contemporary the most because it is very different and abstract. I am taking point and ballet, so it’s very exciting for me.
What is your favorite musical and your favorite theater production? Billy Elliot, is my absolutely favorite musical. We saw it when we went to New York. The music is inspirational and the dancing is great too! It’s just on a whole other level. I like all musicals!
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